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Worcester Citadel is ‘keeping it going’ amid COVID-19

“Keeping it safe, keeping it organized, and, more importantly, keeping it going.”

That’s the message Major Paul Pelletier at the Worcester, Mass., Citadel Corps has passed along to his troops who are fighting to provide services to low-income men and women during the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

Before the pandemic, corps members regularly served 150–200 breakfast and lunch meals to the homeless and low-income at Sally’s Place, a day shelter. When Sally’s Place had to close because of the outbreak, the corps began serving a combination of hot meals and bag lunches from the lobby, “but the restrictions got worse by the day,” Pelletier said.

Some of the recipients began congregating on the sidewalk outside the corps.

“What we’re doing now is serving bag lunches out the front door,” Pelletier said. “We do that daily. The numbers are different from day to day. We’re still doing 50 to 70 bag lunches a day. We’re beefing up the bags and putting more in them than we usually do.”

The corps has also expanded its food pantry from two to three days a week. Employees have also made some emergency deliveries to homes.

Pelletier said some employees are more willing to serve during this trying time than others who would rather stay home and self-quarantine to remain safe.

“The biggest challenge is to keep doing what we’re doing and keep everybody safe. We’re trying to modify our hours and rotate our staff. We’re trying to juggle all that.”

By Robert Mitchell